Sydney looks beautiful in November – jacarandas & roses in peak blossom. Spend five days getting to know Sydney’s best gardens. Our Jacaranda Cruise on Sydney Harbour is one unforgettable experience and we go behind the scenes of Barangaroo. We visit intimate private gardens in the Eastern Suburbs, spectacular public gardens on the North Shore and enjoy a day trip to the Southern Highlands. We visit Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Red Cow Farm, The Kaya, Barangaroo Headland Reserve, Jacaranda Harbour Cruise, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Vaucluse House, Wendy’s Secret Garden, Bronte to Bondi coastal walk, May Gibb’s Nutcote, a private Sydney Opera House tour and we take a trip of the Manly Ferry.
Your Ross tour Leader will meet you on arrival at Sydney airport. Travel together by coach to our hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the sparkling waters at Circular Quay. Near to the Rocks, the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens and ferry terminals, this hotel is in an ideal location for us to explore Sydney. Check into your room and relax before taking an easy stroll to the Calyx in the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney is the nation’s oldest botanic garden, established in 1816 on the site of the first farm in 1788. Our expert guide is Paul Nicholson who takes us on an informative walk exploring the heritage and plant diversity of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Walk back to our hotel via the Opera House and enjoy spectacular harbor views. Dinner to night together at the hotel.
This morning we head south to the Southern Highlands. With heritage towns amid rolling hills and unspoilt bush, the Southern Highlands is one of Sydney’s favourite weekend getaway and today you’ll see why. Our first stop is Berrima, the best preserved Georgian village in mainland Australia. Many of the buildings are made of sandstone blocks carved out by convicts, including the Surveyor General Inn, the oldest continuously licensed inn in Australia. Enjoy a coffee here at one of Berrima’s many charming cafes. A short drive away is Red Cow Farm. This impossibly beautiful garden is the result of its tender loving care by consummate plantsman, Ali Mentesh. Ali will show us through the garden and explain its structure of garden rooms that make the design work so brilliantly. You’ll be enchanted and surprised by the Walled Garden, a sanctuary where solitude invites reflection, the exuberant cottage garden and the Monastery Garden. Discover a stunning collection of unusual perennials, old fashioned roses and clematis in the Abbess Garden. Wander through the beech walk, around the lake, through the bog garden, into the orchard and kitchen garden. Bowral is the largest, most diverse of the Southern Highlands villages with fabulous locally owned boutiques and restaurants. Enjoy free time to find your perfect lunch spot or get some Christmas shopping done. Heads up Bowral has the best bakeries in the Southern Highlands. A treat this afternoon at The Kaya in Wildes Meadow, where horticultural know-how and exceptional garden design come together. Wander through their low water gravel garden, parterre and meadow garden. It’s stunning, nurtured by a born plantsman, Les Musgrave. Elaine is a fine botanical artist who will show us her studio of incredibly beautiful botanical art. A special Melbourne Cup afternoon tea will be served in the garden.
Today are two Sydney treats – a visit to the Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney’s newest Harbour foreshore park and a Jacaranda Cruise with Graham Ross! The 14 acre Barangaroo Reserve was transformed from a former shipping container terminal into a sprawling green space. The harborside park is a triumph and set new benchmarks for sustainable reuse of materials, reuse of water and remediation; along the way winning the prestigious best landscape design of the year award in the 2017 international American Architecture Prize. Over 10,000 sandstone blocks have been used for the sandstone foreshore and throughout the park. A special soil containing crushed sandstone from unused blocks and recycled waste was especially manufactured for the park to replicate the sandy texture of the original headland, allowing plants that had once naturally flourished there to again fix their roots. The remarkable planting program, comprising 675 trees, 2,200 shrubs and 75,000 plants all native to Sydney, has been hugely successful with a failure rate of less than 1 per cent. Named after Barangaroo, a Cammeraygal woman who was a powerful voice in the early days of colonial Sydney, the reserve is rich in Aboriginal and cultural history and remains an area of great significance for Australians across all cultures. This morning experience Barangaroo on an Aboriginal Cutlural Tour that immerses you in the native history of Sydney Harbour, the importance of the land to Australia’s Aboriginal heritage and its significance to the clans of the Eora Nation that once lived where Sydney now stands. We’re spoiled for choice for lunch spots on the King Street Wharf, then later board our Jacaranda Cruise and see the most beautiful harbour in the world with breathtaking Jacarandas in full flower. Hear stories about Sydney’s early days on the waterfront from Graham Ross.
Today we explore the Eastern Suburbs, starting with the award winning hidden gem, the Paddington Reservoir. The reservoir was a vital source of water for the rapidly growing population in the 19th century. It ceased supplying water in 1899 and went thorugh several transformations including a garage and a petrol station. Today the Reservoir is state heritage-listed and hailed as a blend of the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The recent renovation is excellent and successfuly blended the old and new elements of the site. A unique and very special part of Sydney’s history.
Continue east to Vaucluse House, one of Sydney’s few 19th-century mansions still surrounded by original gardens and wooded grounds. Purchased in 1827 by colonial explorer, barrister and politician William Charles Wentworth, the original single-storey cottage was developed over the next four decades into a large, family home. Vaucluse House was Australia’s first house museum and this morning we tour the house and immerse ourselves in the intriguing stories of the people who lived here. Once a huge estate covering nearly all of Vauclause, today 26 acres are a reminder of the property’s early grandeur. Restored pleasure gardens, kitchen gardens and paddocks co-exist with native bushland and a beach frontage: this estate is exquisite – a hidden Sydney treasure. Lunch is on the estate’s stone terrace under ancient fig trees.
This afternoon take the coastal walk from Tamarama to world famous Bondi Beach.
Today we cross the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge to explore Sydney’s picturesque north shore. Our first stop this morning is Wendy’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay. With pristine views of the harbour, and hidden in the shadows of office towers and highways, this little garden is a slice of paradise. Wendy Whiteley (wife of the late Australian artist, Brett Whiteley) and her gardeners have transformed this plot of land into a beautiful public garden. A network of pathways wind through the steep site, framed by timber bush rail balustrades and the gardens are supported by a huge number of rock and timber retaining walls. In near by Neutral Bay we visit Nutcote, the house and garden of another iconic Australian woman, Cecilia May Gibbs. One of Australia’s foremost children’s authors and illustrators, May Gibbs is best known today for her children’s story, The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, featuring two gumnut babies and their escape from the big bad Banksia men. The delightful cottage garden, which combines exotics and native plants, was a constant source of inspiration for May Gibbs’ stories and is now tended by a dedicated band of volunteers. Enjoy morning tea overlooking her garden then take a tour through the BJ Waterhouse designed house. Continue north to North Head for lunch and breathtaking views of South Head, Sydney Harbour and the city skyline. North Head is extremely important ecologically for Sydney, supporting the largest remaining area of endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub as well as a threatened population of Long-nosed Bandicoots. As we head down into Manly, notice the Norfolk Island pine trees. First planted by settlers, these trees could be cut down to build ships. Today, they’re a symbol of Manly. Manly is often decribed as “seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care.” and after this afternoon you’ll understand why! Finsh this scenic day with a ferry ride back to Circular Quay and your hotel. Tonight, celebrate together at a harborside restaurant.
Check out of our hotel and store your bags with the concierge because there is one last Sydney treat in store for you – a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House. This fascinating tour takes you under the famous sails to dicover the stories, the people and the history of one of the world’s most recognizable buildings. Walk back along the harbour to our hotel where our bus waits to take us to the airport and our flight home.
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